I was very excited when I got the opportunity to review Nola Sarina’s GILDED DESTINY. I’ve read many paranormals, but lately they’ve all been palatable like hospital herbal tea. But Sarina’s daring approach to her novella quickly made GILDED DESTINY my favorite new flavor of addicting black tea.
I found myself lost in the unique darkness of this paranormal novella. Sarina unveils rich layers that surprised and terrified me. The tie in of the serpantile Vesper to the Garden of Eden and the terror of the Vesper community demands contemplation. The thoughts creep up on me when my door rattles, I smell something “off”, or I’m walking alone in the park.
Sarina creates a beautiful darkness with rich descriptions that pull you into the emotion and sensation of Calli and Nycholas. You feel their terror, passion, love and despair through her delicate word choice and sensual style.
Sarina gives the reader an unexpected turn in her novella, non-traditionally introducing a main character late in the story, woven into the darkness of Calli and Nycholas’s tragedy. As only a brilliant writer could do, Sarina pulls off her daring move– the surprise character has great depth, strength and power. Sarina’s courage to try something new undoubtedly created an addictive series of beauty, darkness, and power.
For readers who are bored of the traditional adult paranormal, I recommend diving into GILDED DESTINY. Just be fair warned, you won’t be able to escape.
Nola Sarina was kind enough to answer a few questions I had about her process and series. Thank you Nola.
Where were you when you came up with the idea for Gilded Destiny? What were you doing?
I was on my couch, watching my husband play a video game. I knew I wanted to write some novellas to start off the Vesper series – stories that stood on their own, but were interlaced with the full-length Vesper novels’ stories and characters. Calli’s story came to me as I tried to figure out how I could make a character meet someone sexy and scary, but find him familiar, yet not understand why he seemed familiar enough to make her feel safe. And I ended up with a character fighting memory loss from a fabricated accident.
I loved your use of memory loss– the twist in Calli’s past surprised me. Tattoos represent a lot for Calli in the novel. What inspired this? Where did you get this idea? I loved the metaphor!
YAY! I think Calli had too much missing time and no way to cope with the emptiness, and filling her skin helped her keep a grip on her reality. In all of my Vesper books, human beings struggle to resume normal life after contact with Vespers. It’s just too big for them to process without a coping mechanism – most of the train drivers in their world drink heavily, lol. But Calli also craved a bit of pain to make up for the touch she missed from Nycholas, and she wanted to find something gold to wrap around herself and keep herself safe in a world with too many questions, too many unknowns.
I was intrigued with the element of the story that tied back to the Garden of Eden. Can you expand on that? And the Vesper’s role?
The Original Vespers are Levitiqas (the keeper of the male Vespers – a nasty, brutal master) and Vashni (the keeper of the female Vespers). They adopted their names after the snake cursed them in the Garden for the theft of an apple. Vashni only stole the apple to satisfy the desires of her beloved Child, the Original Child. But when the great serpent guardian – charged with safeguarding the seeds of life within the apples’ cores – moved to strike all life from Earth for their sin, Vashni (representative of Eve) offered her life in exchange for forgiveness.
The serpent learned mercy from them and spared life on Earth, but cursed the thieves to eternal night, a terrifying appetite, and charged them with the duty to protect the Original Child from harm until the end of time. If they fail, human life on Earth will end, and the Vespers will walk in starvation forever. So the Vespers protect the Original Child, which guarantees their food source. It’s a paradoxical relationship of love for the people they must kill to survive.
Vespers are a new paranormal element for me. Let me just say, the way you wrote them is both beautiful and terrifying. What was your approach to presenting the Vespers?
I’m surprised by how often I hear from readers, “I haven’t read anything else with Vespers in it before.” So I’m SO thrilled the newness and originality of the idea comes through in the stories, since I imagined the idea a few years ago and let it evolve into what they are in Gilded Destiny.
My approach was to show the Vespers as a species of brutal immortals evolved alongside mankind from the Garden. I wanted them to hold a higher fear value to the humans around them than the legends of vampires, but still relate to the vampire whispers humans in the world have heard their whole lives. Fangs, black eyes, nocturnal lifestyle, and a lack of reflection all relate to the vampire myths. But they’re not vampires… they don’t drink blood often, nor are they able to blend in everyday society thanks to their physical differences from human beings.
Tying in the serpent in the Garden is what solidified their method of feeding for me – a snake renders its prey immobile, either by bite or strangulation, and then swallows it whole. I’m thrilled you found the beauty in it, as well as the terror!
Can you share how you came up with the vision for the train? I can’t imagine how horrid the place is where it leads!
I actually sat in my car at a train track watching the last cars go by in the middle of nowhere and imagined a dark figure hanging off the side, glaring straight at me with long, black hair and solid black eyes, his temples framed in dark, web-like veins and his height overwhelming. This little imagining (that made me kinda floor it away from the tracks once they were clear, I’ll admit!) eventually became Levi, a Vesper servant under Levitiqas’ reign, living at The Pit. He’s the main character of my full-length Vesper novels, though the novellas follow other characters laced into his world. And I LOVE him. And he kinda looks like Joe Manganiello.
How many novellas will be in this series? AKA, how much longer can I enjoy this both terrifying and steamy adventure?
EEEE! I can’t wait to share more with you! There will be a total of three novellas, and there are four completed novels on submission to publishers, and at least two other full-length novels spinning through my head.
Squee! I can’t wait!!! Thank you so much Nola for sharing so much about your characters, inspiration and story. Please make sure to enter the rafflecopter give away (link below) for a beautiful Vesper inspired bracelet.